Victor Wembanyama has quite the wingspan. Getty Images.

FOR AT LEAST two years, perhaps more, the no.1 pick in tomorrow’s NBA draft has been locked in. The 7’ 5” French wunderkind Victor Wembanyama is the most highly anticipated draft pick in two decades (yes, that includes dudes named Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and the most recent recipient of helium-powered pre-draft hype, Zion Williams). 

The San Antonio Spurs hold the number one pick and the chances of Gregg Popovich and his crew pulling a draft-night surprise and going with someone else, or trading down, are so slim it’s difficult to compose an adequate simile. But let’s try anyway: the Spurs not picking Wembanyama, or Wemby, as many pundits intimidated by his four-syllable surname have taken to calling him, would be like a toddler turning down ice-cream (Hey, we tried).

The intrigue starts as immediately as the no.2 pick, held by the Charlotte Hornets. Michael Jordan’s baller business acumen and resulting 4bill ROI, hasn’t quite gone through yet meaning His Airness will preside over the second pick. As reported by ESPN this week, the Hornets decided to conduct second meetings with 6’ 9” wing Brandon Miller, out of Alabama, and G-League Ignite point guard (and Shooting Stars scene-stealer), Scoot Henderson. Word is Miller impressed after a lacklustre first workout with the team who believe he’d be a better fit next to incumbent point guard Lamelo Ball.

That leaves the Portland TrailBlazers with a big decision at the number 3 spot. They’re believed to like both Miller and Henderson. The question is, do they put the pick next to Damian Lillard and see how it goes; trade down and try to get a haul from another team to partner with their three-point assassin in an all-in win-now move; or go for a full rebuild, taking the pick and trading Dame – there are rumours Miami would be willing to offer defensive ace Bam Adebayo in exchange for the Portland point guard. But it’s draft week, there are rumours about everything. Separating scuttlebutt from solid intel is all part of the fun. 

Also worth watching: the night’s fits. Most prospects tend to favour flamboyance and their choices can often provide an amusing snapshot of prevailing suiting trends, particularly when footage is aired during a highlights package years later – seriously the early aughts was a different planet! Of course, that particular pay-off won’t come for about five-10 years.

For now, here’s a closer look at the likely top 5 picks.


Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92

To: San Antonio Spurs
Position: Point Forward/Centre
Height: 7’ 5” 
Wingspan: 8’
Age: 19

Wemby is a 2K player brought to life. Someone 7’ 5” who can shoot and handle mean his highlight packages can corrupt your neural circuitry. Naturally his height and wingspan make him a shot-blocking machine. That he’s rail-thin and likely to be bullied in the paint for a couple of years is to be expected. The big question is will his unlikely combination of length and athleticism make him an injury risk? Two recent cautionary tales: last year’s number two pick, the similarly rangy Chet Holmgren missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury. And Zion Williams, who has the opposite problem: his weight puts acute pressure on his body, so much so he’s only played 114 of a possible 246 games in three seasons. The list of successful centres with long careers over 7’ 3” is short but by all reports Wemby has competitive instincts, lives in the gym and is committed to staying healthy, indications perhaps, that for once, the hype might be justified.


Brandon Miller, Alabama

To: Charlotte Hornets
Position: Small forward
Height: 6’ 9” 
Wingspan: 6’ 11”
Age: 20

Lengthy wings with knockdown jumpers are a prized commodity in the modern NBA. Miller adds a solid handle and an ability to get to the rim but he needs to get in the gym before he can really begin troubling NBA defences. Worth noting: the small forward testified to police that he brought the gun used by teammate Darius Miles in a fatal shooting in Tuscaloosa, Alabama earlier this year. Miller was not charged by police or suspended by his team. But that could be a red flag that makes a GM (understandably) nervous. 

Scoot Henderson


Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite

To: Portland Trailblazers
Position: Point guard
Height: 6’ 2” 
Wingspan: 6’ 9”
Age: 19

If you were picking prospects on attitude alone, Henderson would go no.1. He’s impressed all with his worth ethic and no-f*cks given competitive drive. According to an ESPN report, he firmly believes he’s going to be the top pick and won’t countenance any other scenario. As The Mismatch podcast’s Chris Vernon likes to say, this guy “has that dog in him”, matching Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler for self-belief. He’ll likely need it to succeed at his relatively short (by NBA standards) stature. But hey, if it all goes pear-shaped, he can always take his talents to Hollywood.


Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

To: Houston Rockets
Position: Point guard/Shooting guard
Height: 6’6 
Wingspan: 7’
Age: 20

The Thompsons, Amen and Ausar, are set to become the highest drafted twins in NBA history. Most mock drafts have Amen ahead of Ausar. His human-highlight film athleticism and passing vision almost make up for a shaky jumper, though if he doesn’t work on it, defences could give him the Ben Simmons-treatment – i.e they sag off him, inviting him to shoot. Nobody likes to see that.


Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite

To: Detroit Pistons
Position: Point guard/Shooting guard
Height: (see above – he’s a twin)
Wingspan: (same as above)
Age: (you know the drill)

Similar levels of athleticism to his brother and the same concerns about his shot – these two need to get in a twin study; they’re a potential epidemiological goldmine. On the plus side he’s already regarded as a lockdown defender and attacks the rim with confidence. Possibly important: both twins are said to possess impeccable manners – in the competitive scouting environment intangibles are seized upon, and extrapolated from, at a level that would flatter a Mossad agent. 

Aussie to watch

Mojave King, G League Ignite

To: He’s anyone’s pick.
Position: Guard
Height: 6’5
Wingspan: 6’ 8”
Age: 21

Born in NZ, King has called Australia home since he was 6, so of course, we’re claiming him . . . especially if he’s any good. Attended the NBA Global Academy in Canberra, whose recent alumni include Josh Giddey and Dyson Daniels. The athletic guard played two lacklustre seasons in the NBL with the Cairns Taipans and Adelaide 36ers before moving to the G League’s Ignite, where he began to find his footing, averaging 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists. That was enough to get him a call-up to this year’s Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star Weekend. Projected to go late in the second round. 

Ben Jhoty covers sport and wellness for Esquire Australia.

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